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David Oyelowo
Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, Rosario Dawson
Emma Needell

A boy sets out on a quest to save his ill mother by searching for a mythic figure said to have magical healing powers.
Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $29.96
Release Date: 8/17/2021

• Audio Commentary with Actor/Director David Oyelowo and Cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd
• “Making of” Featurette
• Film Festival Q&A
• “Animation Behind the Scenes” Featurette


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The Water Man [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 5, 2021)

For the first time in his career, actor David Oyelowo steps behind the camera for 2021’s The Water Man. Here we meet Gunner Boone (Lonnie Chavis), an adolescent boy.

Gunner’s mother Mary (Rosario Dawson) suffers from a potentially fatal illness. Unsurprisingly, the youngster seeks to find a way to help her.

Gunner learns of a mythic figure called the “Water Man” who could lead to a cure – and potential immortality. Along with his friend Jo (Amiah Miller), Gunner embarks on a difficult journey to find the Water Man and save his mother.

Born in 1976, Oyelowo came of age in what we’ll call the “Spielberg 1980s”. That influence seems clear in Water, as it mixes some of that era’s Spielberg fantasies with the vaguely spiritual vibe of The Color Purple as well.

Unfortunately, Oyelowo can’t do much with this material, as he seems unsure where to take the tale. In particular, Water spends way too much time with the adults and not enough with the kids.

Yeah, Gunner and Jo get plenty of screentime, but the film frequently leaves them to visit with Gunner’s parents. In particular, the movie builds on tensions between Gunner and his father Amos (Oyelowo) as well as Amos’s attempts to find the boy when he and Jo head off on their quest.

Water comes with some prominent actors in addition to Oyelowo and Dawson, as we find Maria Bello and Alfred Molina. No, that’s not a star-packed cast, but I kind of get the feeling the movie expanded the roster of adults to give these “names” more to do.

This just doesn’t work. We flop from Gunner/Jo and the search for Water Man back to Amos’s pursuit so much that the movie lacks flow and doesn’t really come together.

Water also just fails to connect in terms of the “magic factor”. It wants to indulge in the fantasy elements but these seem stiff and unconvincing.

The actors do fine, as Chavis and Miller show decent rapport. The adults also bring personality to their underwritten roles.

Nonetheless, they just can’t do much with this disjointed tale. A coming of age story with some fantasy overtones, Water Man doesn’t turn into a satisfying enterprise.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Water Man appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an appealing presentation.

Sharpness worked well, as only a sliver of softness crept into the occasional wide shot. Overall definition remained positive, though, without real intrusions into that area.

I saw no evidence of jagged edges or moiré effects, and the image lacked edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

Colors tended toward a mix of teal and orange much of the time, with some reds and other tones tossed in as well. The Blu-ray depicted the hues well, as the tones seemed well-rendered within the design choices.

Blacks appeared dark and tight, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. I felt pleased with this high-quality presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine, as the mix brought the variety of settings to life. Different environmental bits filled the spectrum nicely, and various fantasy/action beats used the speakers in a fairly dynamic way.

Audio quality appeared positive as well, with natural, concise speech. Music showed nice range and vivacity.

Effects came across as clean and accurate, with very good bass response. The soundtrack added to the movie’s impact.

A few extras fill out the disc, and we find an audio commentary from actor/director David Oyelowo and cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, editing and photography, stunts, effects, music and related domains.

For the most part, this becomes a good chat. Oyelowo and Lloyd dig into a little too much happy talk, but they also provide enough useful insights to make the track worth a listen.

The Making of The Water Man runs nine minutes, 13 seconds and offers info from Oyelowo, writer Emma Needell, and actors Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, Rosario Dawson, Alfred Molina, and Maria Bello.

“Making” looks at what drew Oyelowo to the film, story/characters, cast and performances, and Oyelowo’s impact as director. It becomes a fairly superficial promo piece.

A Toronto Film Festival Q&A fills 27 minutes, six seconds with an online panel that features Oyelowo, Chavis, Miller, Dawson, Needell, Bello and Molina. They chat about the script’s influences and development, cast and performances, Oyelowo’s direction, and related topics.

While we get a few decent insights, the “Q&A” tends toward praise and happy talk. This doesn’t become a bad panel but it lacks a lot of memorable thoughts.

Finally, we get Animation Behind the Scenes. This segment spans nine minutes, 55 seconds with info from animation chief Chel White, lead animators Tina Hsu and Sam Niemann and animation producer Rebecca Cedeno Wells.

As implied by the title, this segment covers the movie’s animated sequences. It proves tight and informative.

A mix of coming of age drama and fantasy, The Water Man never quite clicks. The narrative seems unsure of where it wants to go and the end result fails to blend into a memorable or engaging tale. The Blu-ray boasts good picture and audio along with a few bonus features. Water Man doesn’t wholly flop but it also never turns into anything especially interesting.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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